When we think of the term off the grid, we generally think of systems that provide electricity. However, many of these systems can do much more than that. For example, solar collectors can be used to heat water, which could be be transferred into heating your structure.
Wind power could be used to pump water. They also could be combined with other sources such as propane or wood to power a refrigerator or furnace.
You need to figure out which source of power is best for you or what combination will generate the most electricity for you.
Lets look at a basic set up and what you will need.
- A Generation Source: You will need either solar-electric panels or wind generators or maybe a combination of the two. Another idea could be water power. Your plan is to generate electricity.
- Energy Storage System: The most common way is deep cycle or golf cart batteries, which you connect to your system. The batteries store the energy you create for when there is no sun or wind to sustain your needs.
- Inverter: This is a devise that converts the 12, 24, or 36 volt DC coming from the batteries we discussed above so that they are usable with 110 or 120 AC needed with most standard appliances.
- Backup Generator: When natural conditions such as wind or sun fail you, you need a back up system to generate and charge your batteries. A generator of some type is needed for this. Some options include propane, diesel, or gas. These you would want to run during daylight hours so the noise does not bother your neighbors.
- Interface Connector: This devise is used so that you can be connected or disconnected with the grid. A lot of utilities will let you put the power you generate back onto the grid and thus reducing your grid costs.
It is recommended that you get work with professionals to get the best setup for your home. They can advise you on the best components and the correct amount you will need to meet your needs. So get to know your local alternate energy experts.
Often buying a complete system will save you money versus buying each part individually. Keep that in mind as you research your off grid needs.
By Kent Griswold (Tiny House Blog)